HIGH NOTES: People Share Their Favorite Music-Drug Pairings
Just as some wines are meant to be paired with certain cheeses and some shoes look perfect with particular outfits, some drugs go inexplicably well with certain kinds of music. Many report that drugs enhance their music-listening experience by drawing out the meaning of the song or helping them get lost in the sound. These effects are different but equally fascinating for everyone. To get an idea of the vast array of strange and compelling drug-induced musical experiences, I asked people for their favorite music-drug combinations. Here are some of their responses.
“When I was first getting to know who and what I wanted to be, I would drop acid occasionally to meditate on it. I would almost exclusively listen to the songs my dad and I would listen to on his old turntable: Joplin, anyone from the British Invasion, anyone who played at Woodstock. While I was tripping on acid and listening to an oldies soundtrack, I felt comfortable in the familiar while able to focus on the visions and creativity flashing before my eyes. I grew up reliving the ’60s through music, movies, and documentaries, so taking acid in that setting makes me feel so much deeper than just popping a tab, but really understanding where we, it, and everything came from. It’s a super therapeutic and connecting experience.” — Melissa, 25
“I smoke weed daily and usually run through full albums while enjoying it, often ones I’ve heard hundreds of times. Top of the list for me are anything by Childish Gambino, Frank Ocean, J.Cole, Kendrick Lamar, or The Knocks. I’ll mix these in with Broadway musical soundtracks and a Disney playlist. I’m obsessed with Disney and like that cannabis calms my mind and allows me to memorize much of what I’m listening to. Mushrooms are usually reserved for more outdoor activities, but I’ve found a small dosage is perfect before a party.
While I’d like to say I go for more earthy sounds while on mushrooms, for me it’s more about melodic deep house beats, playlists that have limited words and great bass. I like feeling my body reverberate with the sound on mushrooms and feel the deeper the bass, the better the high. LSD gives you a major energy boost, so I usually find myself dancing when on it. The mix of sounds for my trips I prefer are usually in the synth/techno house/tropical house variety. Morning sets from Burning man are great for LSD, especially mixes by Lee Burridge, NSR, Bedouin.
I rarely find sassafras, but when I do, my sound goes more the direction of sexy, sultry vocals. Kat Cunning is currently a favorite, but I also love Bob Moses and will listen to them whenever I’m rolling. For ketamine, the mixes I prefer fall under a category I call sex house. It’s similar to deep house but with song choices that include sexually provocative lyrics and beats that are just perfect for getting sexy or just cuddling.” — Daniel Saynt, 35, founder of NSFW
“Though there have been many songs that I’ve enjoyed while under the influence of marijuana, here are a few that stand out as particularly gratifying for me. When I was younger and in college, a few that I remember really standing out in that mindset were ‘Dark Matter’ by Porcupine Tree, ‘3 a.m./Voices in the Fan’ by Devin Townsend, and the second movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Later, when I experienced smoking marijuana years later again, a couple that stood out were ‘Love Letters to the Soul’ by Entheogenic and ‘All That Makes Us Human Continues’ by BT.” — Jason, 30
“Lemon haze / sour tangie / blue crack for the drug, paired with the Young and Free Spotify playlist.” — Steve, 29
“I like a lot of combinations with drugs and songs, but I made the best memory with the combination acid and Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond.’ Acid makes your brain very active, and for that reason, you will hear sounds in this song you never had heard before. The whole song is a big fantastic journey in a fantastic beautiful world.” — Patrick, 24
“Carbon Based Lifeforms. I feel very peaceful and loving when listening to them. Combining it with mushrooms is amazing for me.” — Marianna, 29
“‘Cups’ by Underworld with MDMA and LSD. LSD demands music with long, sustained tones that is packed with subtle sound events. The song starts with electronically-generated violin sounds but very quickly a bass line drops. That is where the synergy kicks in with the MDMA, which wants fast and exciting music you can move to. In combination, you get an explosion of excitement and joy while flying in psychedelic space, forgetting the world completely and finding a unity, blurring of lines between yourself, the music, the space your body occupies, and the universe beyond the physical real.” — Dutch, 43
“It wasn’t until I was 21 that I first tried cocaine, but was instantly hooked. I was in Minneapolis at a SYSTEM party submerged in techno and the genuine community that comes with it. Rather than dancing and enjoying the music, friendly desire consumed me. Towards the end, James Patrick was closing out the night. I remember conversing with a lovely pink haired woman and out of nowhere, I turned against her abruptly ending the conversation. JP was mixing in the track ‘Doin Ya Thang’ by Oliver $, and it was that track that had me getting down for the remainder of the night.” — Brayden, 26
“MDMA — house/techno. Been loving the Cityfox Foxcast 26: Anja Schneider (September 2018) track. Would love to roll to that. Cannabis — seriously that’s too hard. Everything sounds better on weed. A favorite entire album is Nightmares on Wax’s Smokers Delight (top song: ‘Nights Interlude’). I love a good dreamy indie rock song like Blouse ‘Fountain in Rewind’ or Japanese Breakfast ‘Road Head,’ or something more upbeat like Bonobo ‘Kerala’ or ‘Samurai.’ Shrooms I like actually being outside and listening to the sounds of nature. I did do it at a Six Flags Adventure Park… I probably won’t likely do that again, but you never know. Ketamine — music doesn’t sound so good compared to the other drugs to me, but usually it’s an at an afterparty after a night of rolling so the chiller house/techno.” — Phillia, 40